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Houston outlaws density better than Austin does

A pseudonymous trogolyde in this well-commented thread on Metroblogging Austin has just invoked the second component the "Austin no-growther duo", the first being "It's all the Californian's fault".

M1EK if you are so in love with density. And the idea of quaint neighborhoods with small houses is too much to take move the fuck out of Austin. Move to fucking Houston. Developers have less restrictions. You can tear down houses and build condos and no bats an eye.

The charm, it just oozes off the screen.

It's probably a good time to repoint readers to this article on Houston in which the author alleges a similar, perhaps even greater, interference by the government there in the processes which would otherwise create density, despite the oft-celebrated lack of zoning. One example, in case you don't want to wade through the PDF,

Until 1998, [FN37] Houston's city code provided that the minimum lot size for detached [FN38] single-family dwellings was 5000 square feet. [FN39] And until 1998, [FN40] Houston's government made it virtually impossible for developers to build large numbers of non-detached single-family homes such as townhouses, [FN41] by requiring townhouses to sit on at least 2250 square feet of land. [FN42] As Siegan admits, this law "tend(ed) to preclude the erection of lower cost townhouses" [FN43] and thus effectively meant that townhouses "cannot be built for the lower and lower middle income groups." [FN44] Houston's townhouse regulations, unlike its regulations governing detached houses, [FN45] were significantly more restrictive than those of other North American cities. For example, town houses may be as small as 647 square feet of land in Dallas, [FN46] 560 square feet in Phoenix, [FN47] and 390 square feet in Toronto, Canada. [FN48] Houston's anti-townhouse policy, combined with its minimum lot size requirement for detached houses, effectively meant that almost all single-family development in Houston had to be on a lot of at least 5000 square feet [FN49] (which means that single-family areas in Houston could have no more than 8.7 houses per acre).

There's a lot more. Again, I highly recommend you read this if you've ever heard that "Houston has no zoning".

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , I Told You So , Urban Design , When Neighborhoods Go Bad